In part one, I explained how a typical Mr Unvailable or assclown (or maybe he’s both) uses passive-aggression in the relationship to absolve himself of any responsibility but also to do nothing. But does it surprise you to know that we can indulge in our own passive-aggressive behaviour, too?

Passive-aggression is about trying to get your own way by essentially doing nothing, or doing precisely what you intended to do, even though you may have made noises to the contrary to the other party.

Now, it’s safe to say that part of why women get involved with passive-aggressive men is that their behaviour mimics familiar childhood patterns

If you’re with a passive-aggressive man, one or both of your parents likely controlled their relationship with this behaviour. Like in many childhood situations that foster eventual emotional unavailability, being caught up in this family dynamic may have made you feel helpless. Much like in your present, back then, one person got their way. They silently manoeuvred around the other person whilst the recipient was no doubt pissed off and frustrated at their behaviour and the results of it. You probably tried to help but were likely powerless. So in adulthood, it’s almost like righting the wrongs of your past. On some level, you’re trying to be successful in overcoming this behaviour.

You’re bound to be frustrated because it’s like getting the same results, different year. And once again, someone isn’t appreciating your efforts.

You want to help him because he seems helpless or feigns helplessness about his problems. On the flip side, his treatment of you will sometimes feel like an attack on you. Or, you’ll at the least feel like he’s abusing your generosity. But because you’re so used to his behaviour, you’ll get caught up in trying to manage him and manage yourself around it.

Trouble is, he’ll more often than not outwit you.

That annoying word needy comes home to roost in these relationships. It is your apparent ‘neediness’ that draws you into these situations. Then, as usual, your needs don’t get met. You feel frustrated and are either silent, simmering, hoping for things to change, or trying to verbalise your anger in a way that will win out over him and force him to take action so that you get what you want.

We often feel like victims of their behaviour. We appear to be the only party working hard to save the relationship. However, remember that choosing partners who reflect negative things we believe about ourselves, love, and relationships is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We know the outcome.

In this situation, you’ll find that you’re always with men who are incapable of meeting your needs. You’re left wanting. On the flip side, you always choose men who are inherently incapable of giving you what you want. You wind up feeling invalidated by their behaviour.

You’ll get pissed off, angry, possibly even more ‘needy’. Him being how he is, he’ll then retreat to, in essence, ‘bring you to heel’.

He’ll manage down your expectations until he feels he can ‘manage’ you. When he essentially backs you into this corner, you’ll feel like the ‘negative behaviour’ you display holds your relationship back. Yep, there’s more self-blame to heap on yourself. And, of course, your self-esteem nosedives because of the lack of success of this relationship.

Many women focus on trying to make partners change. The idea is that they can validate themselves and get these people to meet their idea of what they think they and the relationship could be. Rather than opt out of the relationship when it shows obvious red flags, boundaries are crossed. The relationship also has no foundation. Instead, these women dig in for the long haul and try to force their relationships.

By staying there, having endless discussions, telling him every iota of thought that passes through your brain, telling him how unappreciated you are, how much you love him, how nobody gets him like you do, what he should be doing, what he isn’t doing, and how you can’t put up with this for much longer, you are indulging in various types of passive aggression.

You’re not leaving, but hope that by saying you might leave and how this is his ‘last’ chance, it will suddenly galvanise him into action.

You’re hearing but not listening. Even when he tells you point blank what he can or cannot do, you hear something else. You decide that you know better.

You tell him you’re ‘cool’ with the relationship and that you’re happy to go along with whatever arrangement he’s imposed upon you. Then you covertly try to engineer things to the way he professes not to want them. And then his obstinateness kicks in.

You don’t see him as he is. You see him in a past light (often brief behaviour that he exhibited). Or you see the wonderful glow of future light where you’re betting on potential. Most of your efforts are about getting him to be one of these guys. You’re quietly forcing your version of the relationship upon him.

Ultimately, your relationships end up being like standoffs. You hope your inaction will win out so he is forced to change rather than you opting out and having to look closer at your behaviour. Unfortunately, this rarely, if ever, works.

You can only be responsible for your capacity to change. If you don’t want your relationships to be full of inaction, you must be the party that takes action.

You don’t have to continue to take part in these relationships. You also don’t have to continue feeling perpetually disappointed, unappreciated, frustrated, and used, with your self-esteem in tatters. In part 3, I share suggestions for addressing passive-aggression in your relationships. You will find that life becomes easier when you create boundaries in your relationships, adapt your communication style, and follow through on maintaining your boundaries, even if they cause uncomfortableness.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on passive aggression? Do you see yourself as passive-aggressive?

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